Do you believe the lies
they tell about you? Try these two:
"Your hard earned taxes are being used to fund a life of luxury for the scroungers, skivers,
shirkers and scammers who are abusing the welfare state."
"The Labour Government are economically incompetent and if elected would put Britain back in the mess we Tories have had to put right. Forgive us but the mess was so bad it will
take us much longer than we thought to put it right but remember it is all Labour's fault!"
Both of these statements
are patently lies (see previous posts 1 and 2). Despite this they are both still widely
believed across Hartlepool and will strongly influence voter behaviour at local elections and
the next general election.
Understanding how these
lies influence voters is necessary if we are to debunk them. Importantly
understanding will help counter the next set of lies, which will probably be an
intensification of the anti Corbyn smears and also how the Conservatives will
deny or deflect responsibility for the grief that will come with Brexit. This is may be especially true in Hartlepool. First how are these lies created?
Briefly, the power of the
mainstream media to control the production of knowledge and shape how people
think and feel has been known and exploited for as long as there has been mass
literacy and more lately the proliferation of broadcast. In 1928 an American, Edward
Bernays, published a book,  "Propaganda". Referring to
the USA he argued that "the conscious and intelligent manipulation
of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in
democratic society".
.. such manipulation will be by a triflingly "small
number of people who understand the mental processes and social patterns of
the masses". 
Berneys thought that without it American voters
would be confused and unable to make rational choices.   
Since Margaret Thatcher
came to power we have been manipulated by a media constantly pushing the
dominant world view in politics and economics, neoliberalism.  This is the
ideology of the ruling elite, the 1%, the "triflingly" small number
of people who understand what is “best” for everyone.  Neoliberal ideology
is well described by George Mobiot:
"Neoliberalism
sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It
redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by
buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It
maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by
planning.
Attempts
to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation
should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of
labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that
impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality
is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which
trickles down to enrich everyone.
Efforts
to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally
corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.
We
internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they
acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as
education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor
begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to
change their circumstances.
Never
mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are
unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card
is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no
longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault. In a
world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and
self-defined as losers."
Most of the
mainstream media promote neoliberal sympathetic propaganda, including the two
lies stated at the start of this post. Their intent is to frame how reality is
presented, repeatedly choosing and publishing stories to, whether they are true
or not,  reinforce a neoliberal view. Newspapers, television and radio
virtually all subscribe to and promote neoliberalism.
Repeated stories about
welfare scroungers abound and are used to justify cuts to welfare benefits and
austerity as the only economic policy. The
power of these repeated messages (and repeated lies about
immigration
) must be recognised. Repeated lies have
since the 1980's ensured election of neoliberal Governments, intent on reducing
the size of the state, privatising services,  removing workers rights, and
the imposition of a tax system that takes from the poorest and gives to the
richest.
Noam Chomsky describes the five filters which keep the mainstream/mass media telling the right stories in the right way.  Video worth watching!

The core to understanding
the power of the Tory lies is to accept that simply putting forward the truth
will not work. Neither will, on its own, putting forward sane and just policies that will improve the lives of
most people. These will not be heard over the neoliberal din on mainstream
media.
The propaganda is succeeding.
How is the propaganda used to win elections? This is considered in the post Propaganda: They Have Your Mind and Your Vote?
 

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